Fruit of My Labors

 Where do I start…
 
Sunday was the tip of the iceberg for me this week…Steph gave her first talk in Sacrament Meeting! We had a missionary from our ward come home from Thiland, so the bishopric first had Steph tell her conversion story, then a re-activated member explain why and how he came back to church, followed up by this missionary that told our side of the Lord’s work. It was one of the most spirit-filled sacrament meetings I’ve been to, I think just because I saw Steph’s testimony grow from the beginning. When she got up, she told the congregation simply how happy she was that she had multiple friends throughout her life who had the gospel, who always invited her to come to church. It wasn’t until December when she she met the “ladies with the nametags at church every week,” and she decided she wanted to follow her heart. Her simple testimony was enough to make everyone want to drop everything and invite their neighborhood to church: “It’s just this happiness inside–you know you’re doing what’s right. The gospel changes lives.” That’s what you call seeing the fruit of your labors.
 
I got a trainer call last night, which means that I’m going back to the sites to flush train next week—a new area with a new companion. She’s going to absolutely love this mission, and I can’t wait to show it to her! But…I’m really going to miss this ward. Apparently in seminary this week, the seminary teacher had the class guess the missionaries love languages. (We had dinner at their home and took a test…not the generic one, but one that had just three: visual, touch, and talk.) When Brother Griffiths asked the class what mine was, all of them jumped up and said, “OOO! SHE HAS TO BE TALK!” It was funny…they were spot on. I was 6–visual, 17–talk, and 4–touch. Ha! It was funny…and a little bit (a lot) heartwarming that the young men/young women knew me so well. We’ve spent a lot of time with the ward getting to know them and their families the past six months, and it really pays off when we get people like Anne and Steph into the water. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything in my life so bittersweet as leaving Brockport and then going back to the gorgeous historical sites in upstate New York. My heart is literally split in two. So many people to love in so little time.
 
This weekend, however, Sister Johnson and I did get a little get-a-way to the sites. We took another member that had just recently come back to church since she was baptized in 1988, and showed her around all four of the sites. We spent all day with her, and the one-on-one time was just what she needed to keep pursuing that temple recommend. That is one of the huge perks about serving in the NYRM, we get to take investigators, new members, and less-active members to our favorite places to strengthen their testimony. We get to show them the Restoration first hand, and let them feel the original spirit that has been their constantly since the miraculous First Vision in 1820. The next day we scheduled our temple day, which happened to be the same day as we had planned to do weekly planning. We decided to get up early and save our studies to do on top of the Hill Cumorah. While we were up there, Sister Johnson and I met the most wonderful couple from the Southern Tier who had never been to the sites before. They were just driving past the Hill, noticed a tall gold man on top of it, and decided they needed to stop. What a great choice they made! They had the Restoration taught to them in the Visitors’ Center by the sisters, but then came up to the top. We happened to be reading the last few chapters of Mormon which describes the battle scenes that took place on the very ground we were sitting, and we got to testify to them the sacredness of the spot. That was the first time I ever got to teach while looking out over what used to be the Nephite and Lamanite lands. Of course I’ve taught on the Hill before (see any email about the Pageant), but this was literally…on the top. Mormon 8:16 popped into my mind, “And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yeah it shall be brought forth out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.” I know for a fact that I was not just called to western New York, but I was specifically called to the Cradle of the Restoration. If that would have been in Kansas, I would have been sent to Kansas. If it would have been in Florida, I would have been sent to Florida. I am so humbled at the fact that the Lord will allow me to lift up my voice on the very ground this is taking place, not only to bless my life, but to bless the lives of those who have no idea the happiness that they could have.
 
Other than that, we’ve done tons of service projects this week again. We have even more planned for this week! (I promise I’m not just trying to get out of wearing a skirt all day.)

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

 

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The Hill Cumorah Pageant

“And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.” -Mormon 8:16

Every year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints puts on the Hill Cumorah Pageant: American Witness for Christ. It is a huge production with hundreds of men, women and children who devote three to four weeks of their summer to bring the Book of Mormon to life.

So, why is it called the “Hill Cumorah” Pageant? Well, it is set on the hill where the ancient American prophet, Moroni, hid the record of Jesus Christ visiting people in the Americas soon after He was resurrected. Moroni (being a resurrected being) appeared to Joseph Smith in 1823, and told him where this record was hidden–just three miles away from his home. Joseph obtained and translated the record, and it is now known as “The Book of Mormon.” It is an account of the ancestors of the American Indians and how they worshipped Jesus Christ. We celebrate their efforts in keeping this precious journal,on the very ground they stood–only 2,000 years later.

The coolest part is that it’s all volunteer work–no professionals allowed!

via [The Hill Cumorah Pageant facebook page]

The cast arrives just five days before opening night to get cast in their roles and rehearse all of their scenes. By the final dress rehearsal, the audience is welcomed in, and they are expected to keep the show running smoothly.

via [The Hill Cumorah Pageant facebook page]

My favorite part about this is what I get to do with five other sister missionaries. We get to train the cast and work crew to be missionaries during the show’s run. Two hours before the actual production starts, the cast spends that time actively talking to visitors who have come to see the performance, and sharing their testimonies of why they came, what they will see in the Pageant, and what spiritual significance this whole thing is about. Member or non-member, if you come to the Pageant, you’re bound to have a few friends by the end of the night.

via [The Hill Cumorah Pageant facebook page]

So…these guys get here in two months:

Work Crew 2012

They are our fine work crew. They build the stage and…pretty much make everything happen. Anything that is “cool,” that’s what they do.

But then these guys get here in two and a half months…not that I’m counting down or anything:

Me and some of my favorite cast members from last summer’s Pageant.

 I can’t say enough about the cast and work crew. They come from all around the world to make it the best two weeks of the summer for us.

The Hill Cumorah Pageant coming in July 2013!

“Look to your Mother”

“My dear young women, with all my heart I urge you not to look to contemporary culture for your role models and mentors. Please look to your faithful mothers for a pattern to follow. Model yourselves after them, not after celebrities whose standards are not the Lord’s standards and whose values may not reflect an eternal perspective. Look to your mother. Learn from her strengths, her courage, and her faithfulness. Listen to her. She may not be a whiz at texting; she may not even have a Facebook page. But when it comes to matters of the heart and the things of the Lord, she has a wealth of knowledge. As you approach the time for marriage and young motherhood, she will be your greatest source of wisdom. No other person on earth loves you in the same way or is willing to sacrifice as much to encourage you and help you find happiness—in this life and forever.” -Elder M. Russell Ballard

Underground of the Salt Lake Temple, ready to receive my endowment. April 19, 2012

 

As a matter of fact…both my mothers have a facebook page and can text! But that’s beside the point. My mom and her mom are two women that have already figured out how to conquer the world. Not only did my grandmother raise three children that weren’t her own, (along with the four that were hers) she took on a complete life change when she met my grandfather and raised them all in South America. That example helped my mother know that there was no such thing as “impossible,” when it came time to take on children of her own, and keep her job at ESPN. I couldn’t have asked for two better role-models to help me figure out my own life map and letting me know it’s okay get through the mundane things of life with a great attitude. But most importantly, they kept Jesus Christ throughout every decision made along the way. And that is something I will never forget.

Spring Cleaning

Ladies and gentlmen…New York has finally reached springtime!

My first sunburn of the year goes to spending all day on Thursday at the McNeeses doing yard work. They’ve got a huge backyard, and needed a bunch of trees down in preparation for their son’s graduation party coming up. All six of us missionaries went to town busing sticks and logs to the bottom of the yard for a huge bonfire that night. (Unfortunately, the wood was still too wet…it wasn’t that exciting.) But…as we were working, it was one of the most opportune times to remember and ponder what I studied in personal study that morning. My mission president said something a while back that forever changed my thinking habits, and affected my work that day. He said when he has thoughts that he doesn’t want to have or that are mindless, he presses a mental button in his head to go back to what he studied that morning, and ponder it some more. While pushing the wheelbarrow up the hill, I got to think of how I was a literal child of my Father in Heaven, and He did not want me anywhere else in the entire world but throwing logs on the pile, wearing my name tag, serving other people. Before my mission, doing what I used to call “mindless” work, I’d usually think about what I needed to do for school or my job, or even what I was going to do that weekend. But not anymore. If my mission changed anything in me, it changed how my thoughts should always be centered around the Savior in the act of serving. If they’re not, I better get to a place quick where I can do something for someone, so my mind will get back on track. I always need to be thinking, “does what I’m doing forward His work?” If the answer is no, change your attitude. Because most of the time, you can’t really get out of the task ahead. Positive thoughts put anybody on top.

I woke up Friday morning really wanting to be in the Salt Lake temple. Before I was fully concious, I was trying to figure out how I could get there, who I needed to take with me to make it legal…etc. Not after too long, I realized I was still on my mission in New York. Then, came the most important realization. I realized that a year ago that day was the day I went through the temple for the first time–in Salt Lake. It was a pretty cool thought Heavenly Father placed in my mind to start me out in the morning. Just having that memory in the background of my mind throughout the day helped it be a great one.  That night, we helped cleaned the church with McNeeses again. We also have this coming Tuesday and Thursday planned for yard work as well with other members. We just can’t help it if this weather will cooperate with us! It’s nice to finally have a day in about six months that we can actually spend more than an hour or two outside without freezing to death.

Which reminds me of another thought I had. Remember how Joseph Smith had the First Vision in the early spring of 1820? Well, I would consider this time of year the “early spring.” It’s not exactly that warm, yet. We had one day that went into the 80’s, then a couple hours later it was down into the 50’s again. The lake effect doesn’t help either–so yeah, it’s really cold. Anyway, obviously this question was pressing on Joseph’s mind for a while now, because I’m sure he took the first chance he could to get outside to be alone. It tells me first-hand how dedicated Joseph really was to this, and how it really wasn’t all singing birds and flowers during this world-changing event. It was real–it really happened, and it changed the way I think about things forever.

That’s all I really have for this week. We did get two new investigators, and then dropped to one. I was pretty bummed, because the woman that dropped us only spoke Spanish. She shared the most beautiful testimony about Jesus Christ I’ve ever heard, but then texted us and said her husband won’t allow us to come over again. Oh well, it comes with the job. I’ll leave you with a quote that has been ringing through my mind every so often the past couple weeks: “We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.” -Elder Boyd K. Packer

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

p.s. Hill Cumorah Pageant training starts in 2 WEEKS!

It’s All in the Name

Something that defines us as the Mormon Missionaries are these name tags. We wear them everywhere so others will recognizes us as representatives of Jesus Christ. Hands down, the best part about wearing it is because it reminds me of the promises I made when I signed up for this whole thing, and by doing that I will get my family forever. I promised to stand as His witness and testify boldly of the truth, and to testify of what I know to be true. It’s not what my mom or dad knows, not what my mission president knows–it’s what I know.

If you notice, the name “Jesus Christ” is printed just as big as my own name. He called me with my own personality, but expected me to become a better version of myself by walking in His footsteps. In a recent devotional, Elder Bednar encouraged us to “be our own first converts,” but if that’s what we’re trying to do, we have completely failed. Our missions are all about other people. But in turn, we will grow closer to Him through the process of striving to walk, talk, and act just like Jesus Christ did. Wearing this 24/7 is easily the most humbling experience I could have asked for. Who else (literally) wears their heart this large on their sleeve?

 

The Spirit, Indeed is Willing

I love Specialized Training weeks.

I wrote a small blog post about it last week, so that should simply cover what I learned. President got half of the mission together in Batavia to make sure we’re all on the same page. What’s interesting is the night before our meeting, Sister Johnson and I pillow talked for a couple hours about how we can tract better together. She’s extremely bold and will not leave a door unless it’s obvious they don’t want us to come back, but before that night, I was more apt to letting them know why we’re there, and then letting them make the decision for themselves. But when we’re sitting, teaching lessons, we switch roles. I’m the one that doesn’t care how bold I am, and will say whatever I can to get them to feel the Spirit. However, what I’m trying to work on is the initial contact. It’s weird going from teaching in a Visitors’ Center where people come in to learn more about the Mormons, to invading the comfort of their own homes and telling them why they need to listen to me. We have to get the Holy Ghost there somehow…at least before they close the door. If they feel it and still close the door–that’s fine. Seed planted. Maybe the next missionaries they see will have a bigger impact. Anyway, that’s all we talked about at Specialized Training–is how to be more bold, and to remember that all we need to care about is what Christ thinks of us, rather than what other people think. My new goal: get over myself, introduce them to the Spirit, and have the last words of my testimony ring in their ear long after I’m gone. Then the Spirit can testify of the truth that they truly need to survive.

The next day, my companion received a slip from the Post Office telling her she had a package ready to be picked up. Of course, being missionaries, we take our first lunch break to go grab it. As we were walking down Main in Brockport by the cute little shops, there was a double-sided chalk sign that said, “COME IN: TRY OUR GLUTEN-FREE SNICKERDOODLES.” For me and especially Sister Johnson, it read, “COME IN: I NEED GOD.” We both read it independently, looked at each other and laughed, and didn’t even hesistate to walk in. The woman at the front desk introduced herself as Pat, gave us her schpiel about the sales going on, and once she took a breath, I told her that Sister Johnson just recently discovered she was gluten-free. Pat got really excited and walked us through the whole section designed for her, and gave us a ton of free stuff. The whole time, I was trying to find an outlet to have her ask what we were doing here in Brockport. While we were checking out–buying gluten-free, high-carb cookies–I mentioned we didn’t have anything like this where I was from. She looked at our nametags and asked, “Well, what are you doing here?” (Success!) “We’re missionaries, actually we teach about the Book of Mormon,” I said. She smiled and said, “That’s funny, I was just barely on your familysearch.org, and I found my aunt that we have been looking for! If it weren’t for your website, I would never have found her.” We told her about the family history center down the street, and invited her to come with us. We’re going to go visit her again today, so hopefully we can set up a time to go. God really is in the details.

So obviously, Sister Johnson is still recovering from Celiac Disease. But every day my respect for her grows more and more. Her nausea on top of the intestine-healing pain are way more than I could ever bear myself. Her attitude about missionary work makes it seem she just came out of a pep-talk with Elder Holland. We have been very creative in the things she can do, and the Lord has blessed us for it. The sporatic times we can work the whole day, we’ve seen fantastic success. (See previous paragraph.) He allows us to meet and visit many people that we can bring closer to Christ. Not to mention the unfathomable blessing that our mission is the pilot mission for online-proselyting. But through this whole thing, I have seen the scripture in Matthew come alive in her, “…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” -Matthew 26:41. I don’t know if I’ve seen any other missionary want to serve her Master so badly. She will be blessed more than any other person who can tract all day, every day.

As you can expect, I have been studying a lot more these last two transfers! Lately I’ve been studying the pre-mortal life, and doctrine of the “election.” Yes, it is a huge subject to undertake, I’m aware. That’s why it’s just a little bit at a time! I have been slowly uncovering the reason as to why I’m here. Not just living and breathing, but here…born into the Wells/Hawkes family…in New York…taking more persecution for Christ’s name every single day. There’s a reason, and I have a feeling it’s a much bigger deal than I think it is. But in the same token, there’s a reason each of you are in your situation. God had your own life to hand out to someone, and He picked you. He picked you because He not only had the thought, but He knew you could do the best with it. Obviously it’s hard to see while we have our blinders on, but in hindsight…we’ll get it. Just chill. Don’t just hold on the iron rod, CLING to it, wrap your whole body around it! Hold tight, you can do it.
Thanks for all of your prayers, support, etc. I continue to not only need it, but heavily rely on it throughout the day. I love you all!
BE HAPPY!
Hermana Hawkes

Keeping our Treasures in Heaven

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” -Thornton Wilder 

This time, for me, is when I am in the temple.  The Spirit is unrestrained, so it flows freely and constantly through everyone who is there with me. But while in the temple, I get to think of my family that gets to be together forever, and be reminded that I have a sure knowledge that I will never have “till death do you part.”

The reasons that I am motivated to first, actually be worthy to go to the temple, and second, to keep coming back on a fixed schedule, is because it’s a place where heaven and earth meet. I am able to perform necessary ordinances for my ancestors that didn’t have the opportunity to hear the message of the gospel during their liftime. This gives me the hope that if they accept it, I will get to be with them forever. Joseph Fielding Smith said,  “Through the power of [the] priesthood . . . , husband and wife may be sealed, or married for eternity; children may be sealed to their parents for eternity; thus the family is made eternal.”

For more information on LDS temples, visit: http://www.lds.org/church/temples?lang=eng